One of the first things you’ll notice about Key West, after the colorful gingerbread wooden houses and the amazing sunsets, is the constant crowing of roosters. Hundreds of the noisy birds—along with their quieter-clucking mates—roam the streets at all hours, and are nearly as synonymous with Key West as its six-toed cats, the famous furry residents of Ernest Hemingway’s mansion in the Old Town district. They’re all part of the quirky charm of the United States' southernmost point, whose compact 11 square kilometers (4.2 square miles) pack in everything from gorgeous historic architecture and spectacular fishing and sailing to a raucous party scene along famed Duval Street.
While the island is known for its laid-back approach to life—“Margaritaville” singer Jimmy Buffett developed his signature musical style in bars around town—it also has a flourishing creative scene, with many galleries and artists' studios as well as live theater. But back to those brilliant sunsets: There is no shortage of places in Key West to soak in the fiery spectacle, from sunset cruises to rowdy waterfront bars to peaceful beachside parks.